Ty's Take: Ballwebers, girls golf advance to state meets
The West Fargo boys tennis team will be missing out on another state tournament.
But that doesn't mean there won't be any Packers in attendance.
Ben and Brady Ballweber took the doubles consolation championship at last week's East Region tournament in Grand Forks to earn a state berth. The brothers will be headed to Bismarck on Thursday.
"It was a big deal to win that fifth-place match," West Fargo coach Chad Anderson said.
In the team tournament, the Packers fell 3-2 to Grand Forks Central during the opening round, but defeated Shanley 4-1 to make it to the loser-out game. There, West Fargo faced Fargo North, a team that had just beat the Packers 9-0 the week before in conference play. The Packers kept it close, but eventually were bumped out with a 3-2 loss.
At state, the No. 5 Ballwebers will face off against the No. 4 seeded team from the West, which is a much closer talent gap than if they were seeded sixth and forced to face a No. 3 West team, Anderson said.
Ben and Brady Ballweber won their opening-round match 6-2, 6-1, over Valley City's Derek Reimers and Josh Gilbertson. In the quarterfinals, the Ballwebers were bumped from the championship bracket by eventual runners-up Jared Vigen and Andre Caoili of Grand Forks Red River. The Roughriders' Joey Anderson and Greg Wischer took the title.
Even with their hopes of a conference title dashed, the two Packers knew they still had a shot at making the state tournament. The duo battled through the next couple of rounds and eventually found themselves in the consolation final facing Fargo South's Leo O'Day and Seth Hochstatter. The Ballwebers dropped their first set 1-6, and the immediate prognosis seemed bleak.
"That Fargo South team was really good," Anderson said. "There's something I often tell (my players) though: If you weather the storm and hang in there long enough, sometimes good things happen."
The Ballwebers did hang in there, and good things happened in the form of a couple good breaks, Anderson said. The tandem was able to right their ship and go on to win 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 for fifth place.
The win showed their chemistry was pretty solid, a concept that wasn't as concrete earlier this season when Anderson split up his No. 1 doubles team.
"They were together at first, it just was not working," he said. "So I worked them apart so we'd be strong in both 1 and 2 (doubles).
"Then at the end, they both requested to play together, so I said 'we'll see what you can do.'"
Though his Packers failed to make it to state as a team, Anderson still is proud of their season.
We really had a good year. We were over .500 for the year, and with the new team Davies coming in with good players, it made the EDC that much tougher," he said. "We beat the teams we were supposed to beat."
Bixby leads girls golf team to state
Last year, the West Fargo girls golf team placed seventh at the state tournament after a soaking rain cut the event to one day.
After Monday's state-qualifying fifth-place finish at the East Region meet, the Packers are hoping for a better showing this go-round.
Freshman Ashley Bixby paced West Fargo with an 86, which tied for fourth place with Grand Forks Central's Taylor Lund. Bixby was part of the All-Region Tournament team for finishing in the Top 10, and earned All-Conference honors for her regular-season play.
The Packer finished with 382 strokes at the EDC meet - just one stroke off fourth place Fargo North.
Lexi Lennon tied for 18th after shooting a 97, while Lauren Johnson tied for 21st with a 99.
West Fargo is heading to the Jamestown Country Club for the two-day state tournament that begins Monday, Oct. 4.